Figurative Language The Language of Comparison
Literal v. Figurative Language • Literal language • Means exactly what it says it means • Ex. That boy is smart. • Figurative language • Uses the language of comparison • Not literally true • But truth exists in the connection between two seemingly unlike things • Ex. That boy is sharp as a tack.
The Power of the Language of Metaphor • Good similes and metaphors create different levels of recognition in the reader. • 1st level: “I knew that.” • 2nd—“I would have known that.” • 3rd—“Wow! I never would have made that connection myself!” • Excellent metaphors surprise us into a recognition that we would never have gotten on our own. • They hand us an experience that gives us a new way of seeing the world.
Simile • A comparison between two seemingly unlike things, using “like” or “as” • Formulas • A is like B. • A is as _____ as B. • Example: • The bruise on her arm was like a large purple flower. • The bruise on her arm was as purple as a dark flower.
Direct Metaphor • A figure of speech that directly compares two seemingly unlike things • Formula: • A is B (A = B) • Example: • The bruise on her arm was a large purple flower.
Implied Metaphor • A metaphor that suggests, rather than states directly, the connection between two seemingly unlike things by assigning the characteristics of one to the other • Does not directly name one of the items being compared • Drops hints about it • Formula: • A has specific characteristics/qualities (of B). • Example: • The purple bruise on her arm blossomed quickly. • The word “flower” never appears directly, but the bruise (A) is given the characteristics of a flower (B) in that it is purple and blossoms.
Personification • Assigning human characteristics to an animal or thing • Is a type of implied metaphor • Example: • The wind whispered its secrets through the trees. • Analysis: • The implication is that the wind is human—only humans can tell secrets.
Extended Metaphor • Taking a metaphor, whether direct or implied, and exploring different points of comparison between the two items—not just one • Think of turning a diamond over in your hand, exploring each facet, instead of looking at it only from the top. • Often runs through several lines of a poem • Ex. Robert Frost’s “A Hillside Thaw”
Application/Practice Time! • Using the following two seemingly unlike things, create original examples of two different types of similes, a direct metaphor, and an implied metaphor: • Stapler • Alligator • Even though these two items are seemingly unlike, think of all the possible connections you could make between them. What qualities or characteristics do they share?
Similes: A is like B • The stapler is like an alligator. • The stapler snapped down on the paper like an alligator on its prey. • The stapler is like an alligator chomping its jaws on the paper. • The stapler locked my paper like the jaws of an alligator. • The stapler’s metallic incisors are those of an irate alligator. (A is like B.) • A stapler silently waits for its prey like an alligator. • The alligator shut its jaws, and like a stapler to paper, stuck to the gazelle’s leg.
Similes: A is as _____ as B • A stapler is as quick as an alligator. • The stapler is as mean as the jaws of an alligator. • The stapler swung open like the thrashing tail of an alligator. • The staples are as sharp as an alligator’s teeth. • A stapler is as heartless to its victims as an alligator is to its own. • The stapler lies in wait like an alligator ready to pounce on its prey. • The alligat0r’s body was like a stapler, thick, tough as metal, and ready to pierce.
Direct Metaphor • The stapler is an alligator. • The stapler is the head of a black alligator. • This paper pincher is no less than a fresh-water predator. • A stapler is an alligator with its intimidating bite. • The stapler was a powerful alligator with clenched jaws. • When merging stack of papers, the stapler becomes a hungry alligator. • As I watched the teacher prepare the homework, her stapler became an alligator on attack. • The stapler looked hungry, waiting; its jaws were those of an alligator’s, ready to close on its prey.
Implied Metaphor • The stapler sits with open jaws in wait for its next feast. • The stapler waits patiently for its prey, the paper. • The stapler clamped its jaws on my paper. • The stapler’s teeth gnashed viciously at my paper. • I keep a tiny alligator in my pencil pouch.